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Benefits & Other Financial Help

Benefits

The most common benefits which may be relevant to your family’s needs are Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Carer’s Allowance. DLA is paid to the young person, and therefore is not usually affected by family income. Your child does not need to have a major ‘disability’ to qualify – if they have more difficulty than other children their age in doing every-day tasks, or if they require more care than a child of a similar age, they may qualify.

Carer’s Allowance depends on other income and number of hours spent caring for the disabled person.

It is important to discuss your particular situation with a qualified advisor, as any other benefits or income you may be receiving can affect your eligibility. You may also need to consider child tax credits, for example.

There is a benefits calculator on the Government’s website, which will give you some indication of what your family may be eligible for, but you should not rely on it – always get advice.

Other concessions

Your child may also benefit from concessions such as a reduction in Council Tax, if your child receives DLA and your house includes a room which has been adapted to the needs of your child. These ‘adaptations’ can include simple adjustments such as fitting window locks to prevent a child trying to climb out of the window, or removing all sharp-edged furniture from the room if a child is likely to harm him or herself. However, you must be able to show that the room is solely for the child’s use. Contact Signpost for more guidance on this topic.

If your child receives the mobility component of DLA, this in turn may qualify them to receive a reduction in road tax, a ‘blue badge’ for parking or travel concessions such as a taxi card. Signpost can give you more information.

Funding for Holidays and Equipment

Bringing up a child with a disability or additional needs has been shown to be more expensive than average, and children often need additional equipment to help them make the most of life. Although it is worth asking your local health and social work service providers for assistance with any special equipment, this can not always be provided. Signpost can help you access funds to get the items your child needs. These may include:

  • toys and specially adapted toys (including outdoor play)
  • adapted bikes
  • computers
  • adaptations to your home
  • holidays for families under stress
  • help with travel costs or training fees for courses related to your child’s disability
  • help with driving lessons for parents if it is difficult to take their child on public transport

This list is not exhaustive, so let us know if you need something, and we will see if we can help. Note that Signpost does not give out grants but knows of funders who can be approached. You can also read our guidelines for funding applications.

The Family Fund can help with costs for family holidays, equipment and a washer/dryer if your child needs extra changes of clothes or bedding, for example. They can only help children up to 16, where the household income falls below a certain threshold. Signpost holds application forms for the Family Fund, and we can help you to fill them in if required.

If you are not already claiming benefits such as Disability Living Allowance or Carer’s Allowance, you might want to find out whether any of these might apply to your family.

Local Sources of Advice:

Livingston Citizens Advice Bureau

Address: Almondbank Centre, Sheil Walk, Livingston

Telephone: 01506 432977

The national Citizens’ Advice Bureaux website also has an online guide to benefits.

Advice Shop

Address: Bathgate Partnership Centre, Lindsay House, Bathgate

Telephone: 01506 283000

Online/telephone advice about claiming benefits:

Contact a Family have telephone advisors who are familiar with the needs of families with a disabled child.

One Parent Families UK has a project specifically for parents of disabled children, including a helpline.

Government advice and links to benefits for bringing up children with additional needs – click here

Cerebra has published a downloadable guide to claiming DLA, designed specifically for families of disabled children, particularly those with a brain injury. You can ask Signpost for a copy of this, if you don’t want to print it all off (it’s 68 pages long!).

The National Autistic Society has information suggesting the best way to go about claiming DLA for a child with autism.

Direct Payments

If the local authority’s social work department decides that you or your child need community care or children’s services, they can offer you direct payments as an alternative to arranging the services for you. This means they give you a sum of money equivalent to the cost of the services, and you can arrange them to suit your needs (for example, you may employ a personal assistant for your teenager using someone known to you instead of agency staff). If you get direct payments you must use it to arrange services that meet your assessed needs. You can choose whether or not to receive Direct Payments.

The decision about whether to ask for direct payments is a complex one, as it involves you becoming an employer of the people who deliver the service. Support with the decision about whether to claim Direct Payments, and help with the practicalities,  can be found by contacting the Lothian Centre for Independent Living on 0131 475 2350.